Japan's political heavyweight unlikely indicted by prosecutors

08:22, February 04, 2010      

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Following two rounds of questioning by prosecutors over the alleged falsification of political funds reports, it looks unlikely the ruling Democratic Party of Japan ( DPJ) Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa will be indicted on Thursday due to insufficient evidence, sources said on Wednesday.

Japan's ruling Democratic Party Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa attends a news conference at the party headquarters in Tokyo February 1, 2010. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Prosecutors questioned Ozawa twice after three of Ozawa's current and former aides were arrested last month on suspicion of failing to record expenses related to the land purchase in fund reports, but Ozawa said he had told the investigators that the 400 million yen used for purchase of the land in October 2004 was part of his private assets and has vocally maintained his innocence.

Ozawa has also denied the allegations that he took bribe from a construction firm.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has stated he will watch developments "calmly" while standing by his DPJ kingpin.

"You ask on what grounds do I believe Ozawa, but isn't it natural for me to believe first the words 'I'm innocent' expressed by a DPJ comrade who achieved a change of power?" said the Japanese premier.

"It's my thinking that the investigation will reveal whether there are facts that back up his alleged violation of the law as reported," said Hatoyama, adding that he expects the former DPJ leader to continue his role as party secretary-general, despite febrile calls from opposition parties for Ozawa to step down.

Sources revealed Wednesday that the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office are leaning toward indicting Tomohiro Ishikawa, 36, a DPJ member of House of Representatives, over the alleged falsification of annual reports, and Takanori Okubo, 48, Ozawa's current secretary, on charges of violating the Political Funds Control Law.

Ozawa should "feel the pain of his political and ethical responsibility," Ozawa's counterpart in opposition Liberal Democratic Party, Tadamori Oshima, told reporters, adding "The public thinks Mr. Ozawa's explanation is insufficient."

Source: Xinhua
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